Saudi king in China to secure overseas oil and gas reserves

Saudi King Abdullah met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Monday, amid efforts by China to secure overseas oil and gas reserves for its power-hungry economy. Abdullah's three-day visit was the first by a Saudi ruler since the two countries formed diplomatic relations in 1990.

Hu told Abdullah during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing that the visit would help "write a new chapter of friendly cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia in the new century." Reporters were asked to leave the room shortly after the talks began. Hu and Abdullah, who arrived in China on Sunday, were expected to discuss cooperation in energy and trade, the official Xinhua News Agency said earlier. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said several agreements would be signed between the two sides on Monday, including an energy agreement and one on avoiding double taxation.

Dow Jones Newswires reported one of the agreements would call for increased cooperation and joint investment in oil, natural gas and mineral deposits. The report did not specify any financial details and the Saudi Embassy in Beijing said it had no details about the king's visit.

Total trade between the two countries, much of it Saudi oil bought by China, grew by 59 percent in the first 11 months of 2005 to US$14 billion (Ђ11.6 billion), according to China's Foreign Ministry. China, the world's No. 2 oil consumer, has been aggressively seeking to strengthen relationships with major oil suppliers as it grows more heavily reliant on oil imports.

Abdullah was also scheduled to meet with No. 2 Communist Party leader, Wu Bangguo, and Premier Wen Jiabao, on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia accounts for about 17 percent of China's imported oil, reports the AP. N.U.

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